MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - Two weeks after the Memorial Day holiday and a year after the Waldo Canyon Fire, business owners in Manitou Springs are optimistic about their economic recovery.
Several merchants told KRDO NewsChannel 13 on Saturday that sales are at or near where they expect. Business owners said last summer's wildfire and the subsequent warnings of a higher flash flooding risk reduced sales substantially.
Doug Lewis, owner of Spice of Life restaurant, said the emphasis on flash flooding preparations scared many customers away.
"We can't just sit here and wait for it to happen," he said. "We're not even small businesses any more. We're micro-businesses. We depend on people daily. We need to get people out here spending money."
But Lewis said he's noticed that retail shops don't seem to be faring as well as restaurants and eateries.
"I worry about it because I see all these people who don't have bags in their hands. Very few."
Several motels in town were full and flashed "no vacancy" signs, but Lewis said concern remains.
"I've heard some (places) don't even have reservations in July, which is very scary," he said. "I hope that's going to change."
Bruce Harris is a manager at the Stagecoach Inn and said he's excited about summer sales.
"We're seeing some of the same tourists that we see every year," he said. "As for flash flooding, I don't see it being too much of an issue."
Some merchants said business is only now starting to pick up after an earlier-than-usual Memorial Day weekend and school graduations scheduled after that.